Saturday, August 21, 2010

If DH Is Confused, Where Does That Leave the Rest of Us?

Currently reading - Death's Excellent Vacation, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner

DH has been keeping an eye on the business news in regards to the publishing industry. He asked my thoughts on the looming proxy fight within Barnes and Noble. His point being with the advent of our e-reader overlords, why are the shareholders fighting over a sinking ship?

First of all, I can't see print totally disappearing. Like vinyl in the music industry, I think it'll become a niche market.

Second of all, once I explained the actual manufacture and distribution of print media, his eyes bugged out, and he muttered something along the lines of "How quaint!" And yes, I agree with DH that a correction in the industry is long overdue. When most other businesses use just-in-time inventory and high-speed communications to faciliate their work, the publishing industry looks positively stegasaurian by comparison. It's only been in the last five years that the number of agents and editors taking e-mail queries has flipped from the miniscule minority to the majority.

Finally, a lot of authors are using these new technologies to strike out on their own and self-publish. The jury's still out on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Some folks are smart enough to get the professional support they need, i.e. editors, cover designers, etc. Some aren't. Some have the savvy to build a platform and market to their audience. Some don't. I think in the short term, the public will have to wade through the slushpile. Word of mouth will become even more important as we look for the jewels we want to read.

So what's going to happen in the next five years? Hell if I know. But it's going to be a bumpy ride.

(And people wonder why I use the white water metaphore.)

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